The Beecham Touch = DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; ROSSINI (arr. RESPIGHI): Rossiniana; BIZET: La Jolie Fille de Perth Suite; BERLIOZ: Excerpts from La Damnation de Faust; DVORAK: Slavonic Rhapsody No. 3 – London Phil./Beecham – Dutton

by | Aug 19, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

The Beecham Touch = DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a
Faun; ROSSINI (arr. RESPIGHI): Rossiniana; BIZET: La Jolie Fille de
Perth Suite; BERLIOZ: Excerpts from La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24;
DVORAK: Slavonic Rhapsody No. 3 in A-flat, Op. 45 – London Philharmonic
Orchestra /Sir Thomas Beecham

Dutton CDBP 9753  69:04 (Distrib. Harmonia Mundi)****:

This is one of those rare historic restorations which superlatively
reminds one why he liked music in the first place–because its beauties
transcend words! The absolute delicacy and finesse of the London
Philharmonic, 1934-1939, rivals anything achieved by the Philadelphia
Orchestra under Stokowski, the Concertgebouw under Mengelberg, and the
Berlin Philharmonic under Furtwaengler. Given the sometimes narrow
predilections of conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), the music
proceeds with a security of rhythm, texture, and naturalness of phrase
that must have been the envy of ensembles everywhere.

The buoyancy of Rossini’s orchestrated piano pieces, the serene accord
between harp and winds in the Bizet suite, the sudden explosions of
posed rhetoric in the Hungarian March of Berlioz, all bespeak the grand
style in music, achieved often by the simplest of means. Principals
Reginald Kell, clarinet and Leon Goossens, oboe are merely the tip of a
limitless glacier of ensemble talents. At a time (1935) when the
recording world already had a glut of New World Symphony renditions,
Beecham chose to record a rare Slavonic Rhapsody in distinctive,
haunting lines, when even Czech music masters had ignored it. The
Debussy Prelude (1939) opens the disc, here in glorious mono
Technicolor. Culled from the label’s more expensive full-price line,
this happy assemblage of Beecham inscriptions, resuscitated in the
quiet process that has become Michael Dutton’s wont, is a budget gift
to oneself that repays the investment many times over.

–Gary Lemco

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